Intel: US contracts Boeing to build new cruise missiles for Saudi Arabia, Qatar

al-monitor The guided-missile destroyer USS Barry launches a Tomahawk missile in the Mediterranean Sea, March 19, 2011. Boeing is to make 650 new land attack cruise missiles for Saudi Arabia. Photo by REUTERS/Roderick Eubanks/US Navy photo.

May 14, 2020

The US Navy awarded Boeing a nearly $2 billion contract Wednesday to provide Saudi Arabia with 650 new land attack cruise missiles, as well as to upgrade existing ones by the end of 2028.

The Pentagon also said it contracted the aerospace giant to build 402 Harpoon anti-ship cruise missiles for Riyadh, as well as 53 Harpoon missiles for Qatar’s government by 2026.

Why it matters: The announcement comes in the wake of news last week that the Pentagon is pulling two Patriot missile defense batteries out of Saudi Arabia, which Washington deployed in response to a September drone and cruise missile attack on the kingdom’s Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities. The US blamed Iran for the attack.

What’s next: The Pentagon is looking to free up assets to counter China, but the Trump administration’s pressure on Iran and, in conjunction, support for Saudi Arabia and Israel, are unlikely to let up any time soon. The Trump administration accuses Tehran of exploiting the 2015 nuclear deal to expand its conventional ballistic missile program. American officials have said Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has provided missile technology to the Houthis in Yemen and to militias in Iraq. And the Houthis have fired a number of ballistic missiles toward Saudi Arabia in retaliation for the kingdom’s involvement in Yemen’s civil war.

US envoy for Syria Jim Jeffrey has also said the Trump administration intends to prevent such weapons proliferation into war-torn Syria by supporting Israel’s airstrike campaign against Iranian targets there.

Know more: Read our piece on the US decision to pull two Patriot missile defense batteries out of Saudi Arabia.

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